Few races offer the level of spectator-friendliness as Racing for Home at 45 North Vineyard & Winery. With the course spread out amongst the vines and hardwoods of the property, it’s one of the most spectacular places to watch a bike race in the Midwest. With the multi-lap format, one can see riders non-stop throughout the day, all whilst sipping a glass of wine or hard cider in the shade and comfort of the vines.
The racing, however, is a bit tougher than than the spectating, and yesterday’s race to raise money for Habitat for Humanity Grand Traverse Region proved to be as challenging as any race around.
It’s fitting, then, that this was the race to follow the untimely and tragic passing of long-time mountain biker and member of our cycling community, Jack Kline. Jack’s advice to riders new and experienced alike was that the real race was a mental one; no matter how challenging, the will to keep riding and to never quit was the most important aspect of bike racing and in life. Racers paused for a moment of silence for Jack prior to the race, and our thoughts returned to Jack and his passion for racing throughout the day, and particularly when things got tough.
Nick Wierzba took the line with the #1 plate attached to his bicycle and was the odds-on favorite to take home the win. He took no prisoners from the off, with an absolutely stonking first lap that left the entire field chasing a ghost up the trail. Only Garrett Jenema could match Wierzba’s pace, and the two quickly gapped the pack, with Wierzba eventually easing away from the young phenom. Kyan Olshove, who can’t vote yet but still whooped everyone out there, made up serious ground in the first few laps, eventually finding himself in a podium position and in a fight with Jenema for 2nd. Despite a impressive chase, Rob Martin couldn’t make up time to get into the fight, leaving Olshove and Jenema to fight for 2nd-best honors, with Jenema nudging ahead of the fast-charging Olshove for silver.
The ride of the day might just be the ride for fifth, however. Jared Dunham broke a chain on the first climb of the day, and after a quick fix, was in for a long day of chasing to catch the rest of the field. He did just that, going from dead last to a top five finish. Jared has had some technical issues this year, so it’s great to see the kid stay mentally strong and fight no matter what. It’s a lesson we can all learn and hope to emulate down the road.
Emma Schwab took the win in the Pro Women’s field, with no takers on the line to contest the victory. That doesn’t take anything away from Emma’s great ride on a very tough course. Next year, we hope some more women show up and try to take the title away from Emma – they’ll find it a task far easier said than done.
A special shoutout goes to kolo tc rider Dan Ellis who took the line on Sunday after having ridden 146 miles from Midland to Traverse City for the Less Cancer Ride, plus the 20 mile Less Cancer ride Sunday morning. Dan’s odyssey of lycra and miles for a great cause is super impressive, so be sure to buy this dude a beer the next time you see him. Great job, Dan.
Bryan Carps continued his rich vein of form to take the Expert 40 & under title, with Neil Vajda just three seconds behind on the line in one of the closest races of the day. Terry Ritter took the win in the 41 & up race, with Kris Sands and Eric Olshove filling up the podium in that category. Kasey Wierzba was the lone lady in the expert field with a finishing time that was super competitive when compared to the mens’ times.
From here on out, things get decidedly orange. The Orange Armada that is Norte Youth Cycling had a field day; evidence of this comes in the form of the sport 40 & under field, where Will Unger, Carter Schmidt, and Will Haapala went 1, 2, 3 in a stacked field. Sam Maldonado, Gwen Urbain, and Sage Day finished in that order in the 40 & under race for the ladies. For the 41 & up sport races, it was Steve Kelty and Bonny hall on the top steps in the biggest fields of the day. Josh Westhouse took the win in the fat bike category – an impressive feat given the draggy nature of the grass sections across the course.
You can view the full list of results here.
Photo Gallery from Happy Trails Co.
Avery from Happy Trails Co. was on the scene to capture the drama of race day, plus some snaps of all the Norte kids crowding the snack tent post-race. Please be sure to follow Happy Trails Co. on Instagram and Like his page on Facebook as a thanks for the awesome pictures!
A huge thank you to Trent and his army of volunteers for an awesome day of bikes and vineyards for a great cause. If you missed the race but want to learn more about Habitat for Humanity – GTR, check them out here and consider making a donation. The race wouldn’t be what it is without the incredible venue, so thank you to 45 North Vineyard & Winery for opening up the farm to all us nerds in spandex.